Stiffer Distracted Driving Penalties Kick into Effect in Ontario on Jan. 1

Starting tomorrow, tougher penalties and long-term consequences for texting and driving are going into effect in Ontario.

According to CBC News, drivers caught, talking, texting, or dialling on a handheld device will be fined up to $1,000, which is twice the current fine, with additional penalties for repeat distracted drivers.


(via Sandra Abma/CBC)

Const. Sean Ralph of Ottawa police, who is taking part on a crackdown on distracting driving, revealed penalties for repeat distracted drivers include a three-day licence suspension and three demerit points. “It’s really going to cost you, but there’s a reason for that”, he said. “It’s a major infraction right up there with impaired driving”.

According to police, distracted drivers are the leading cause of fatal collisions in Ontario. “It’s really education through enforcement,” said Ralph, who hopes higher fines will reduce distracted driving. “The last thing I want to do, especially this time of year, is do a death notification”.

Ontario is ringing in the new year with the new penalties, making it a good time for drivers to make a resolution to keep their hands off their devices while behind the wheel. 

For a second conviction within five years, the maximum fine rises to $2,000, plus six demerit points and a seven-day driver’s licence suspension.

More convictions within that five-year period would be an even bigger hit to the wallet at a fine up to $3,000, six demerit points and a 30-day suspension.

Drivers with a graduated (G1, G2, M1 or M2) licence face even harsher penalties. Those drivers face the same fines as more experienced drivers, plus the following:

  • 30-day licence suspensions for a first conviction
  • 90-day licence suspensions for a second conviction
  • Licence cancellations for a third conviction.

At the same time, insurance rates will also go up for convicted motorists.